Monday, March 09, 2020

Coronavirus: Airport Ambulance Drivers Are Sitting Ducks For COVID-19

Mumbai: About three dozen contractual labourers working as ambulance drivers and their assistants at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) fire station have raised concern over not being provided protective gear to handle the suspected Coronavirus patients landing in the city and ferry them to hospital. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, they have been doing the job without facemasks and hand sanitisers.

One of the ambulance drivers, Santosh Kharat told mid-day that since the Coronavirus outbreak, the passengers suspected to have contracted the virus are sent to Kasturba Hospital in Chinchpokli in the ambulance provided by GVK, the company that operates the Mumbai airport.
"Since the COVID-19 outbreak, all passengers coming to the city are screened at the airport and those suspected to be infected, are sent to Kasturba Hospital in Chinchpokli. The drivers and assistant drivers of the ambulance assist them (infected passengers) to board the vehicle and drop them off at the hospital. Some of them even cough and sneeze while we travel with them. It's an infectious disease and chances of getting infected are very high in our case if we do not wear protective gear and take precautionary measures," Kharat added.

He further said, "We have not been given protective gear like masks and hand sanitisers. How will we combat COVID-19 without safeguarding health workers like us who come in direct contact with infected patients on a daily basis? Our life is at stake. We are contractual labourers of Humancare World Wide Private Limited and our salary ranges from R10,000 and R16,000 per month."
Another contractual labourer, Sameer Kashte said that a couple of workers had sent a message on the official WhatsApp group of the company — Ambulance Crew — but the officials did not respond. "The message was sent on March 5 asking for masks and hand sanitisers but the seniors have not acknowledged it," Kashte said.
09/03/20 Diwakar Sharma/Mid Day
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